September 9, 2022
Australia United StatesMobile, Ala., has completed construction of the 338’x93’6″ (103mx29.5m) Expeditionary Fast Transport Vessel Apalachicola (EPF 13) for the US Navy. The EPFs were formerly known as Joint High Speed Vessels, delivering the first vessel in 2012.
The EPF’s large open mission deck and spacious living spaces provide the opportunity to conduct a wide range of missions – from engagement and humanitarian aid or disaster relief missions to the possibility to support a range of future missions, including special operations support, command and control, and medical support operations. With its ability to access austere and degraded ports with minimal outside assistance, the EPF provides options for fleet and combatant commanders.
With drafts of 13′ (4 meters), the EPFs are catamarans that have provided humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime security, surveillance, command and control, combat narcotics and additional operations in almost all parts of the world.
A unique feature of Apalachicola is that Austal USA has been engaged to design, acquire, implement and demonstrate EPF 13 as a stand-alone platform, enabling Apalachicola to operate autonomously while maintaining manned operation capability, reducing costs and centralizing ship operations on deck.
“EPF 13 is derived from Austal USA’s flexible, high-speed EPF Spearhead-class multihull aluminum vessel design,” said Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh. “Our team was able to take advantage of the core automation capabilities of the platform and develop a software and hardware solution to enable autonomous operations. Successful autonomous capability required modifications to Austal’s machinery control system and hull mechanical and electrical systems, integration of L3Harris‘ mission autonomy and navigation systems, and General dynamics Mission Systems’ autonomous cyber solution to create the Navy’s largest unmanned surface vessel.
Main propulsion comes from four MTU 20V8000 diesel engines connected up to four wartsila adjustable and reversible water jets. The propulsion system gives the Apalachicola a speed of 33 knots with 380 metric tons of cargo, 21 knots with a mission payload of 231 metric tons of medical cargo and 10 knots in sea state 5. The vessel has a range of 1,200 nautical miles at 33 knots at fully loaded, 4,700 nautical miles at 21 knots without cargo and 2,000 nautical miles at 21 knots with full medical cargo, including 36 crew, three VIP quarters and a single officer-in-charge suite, 147 embarked/support forces medical, eight isolation/acute cargo wards, two operating theaters (one major procedure and one minor procedure), 23 medical ward beds (in the intensive care ward/unit), 10 care unit beds and eight isolation/acute care beds.
The EPF 13 carries an 11-meter RIB launch and recovery system and a hydraulic paint boom.